Mary and the Magnifying Glass

August 21, 2022 Grace Abruzzo

I remember the day when I was in fifth grade when some of the more mischievous boys, not generally inclined towards academics, nonetheless took a sudden interest in science. They would get up and go to the potted plants on the windowsill, and using the magnifying glass, would study them intently and at length. This newfound fascination intrigued me, who could see nothing remarkable about the plants that captured their attention. What were they seeing that I could not?

It was all explained when, after mysterious holes began to appear in the leaves, they started giggling like girls, and were caught, red-handed, having set a small insect on fire. The magnifying glass, held to focus the light of the sun to great intensity, had become a weapon of destruction.

“While many people picture the devil with a pitchfork, he actually has a magnifying glass,” writes Father John Paul Oullette, CFR. “He puts it in front of us some small defect or issue and makes it big. Then he keeps pointing at it until finally the person gets distressed, then depressed, and then falls into despair, maybe even death.”

I’ve thought about this often, and the various manifestations of the magnifying glass-made-weapon. How the enemy magnifies our faults, our fears, our losses and our lack; how sorrows and sadness seem to swallow us and steal our hope of things ever getting better.

Sometimes we’ve done something evil, and the Opposition convinces us that we have become evil, that we are outside the love of God. Sometimes we’ve been sinned against, and the Opposition magnifies that wrong, playing the video on repeat in our minds, and each time we watch we see the other’s fault growing worse and worse and worse, until it becomes Unforgivable.

Sometimes it is a source of sadness that is magnified, and we are convinced that we have no hope, that we will never be happy again. Or what is monotonous and mundane in our lives is magnified, and we are convinced that our lives are without meaning.

The magnifying glass makes larger what is in its lens, and makes everything else smaller; we cannot see around it. Sometimes even good things are magnified, given an exaggerated importance, until they dwarf the things around them. For example, we magnify our mission—and maybe miss the God who called us to that mission.

We know that the magnifying glass is in enemy hands when we find ourselves beginning to smolder, with resentment, with bitterness, with anger. When we find ourselves trapped or paralyzed by fear.

But the magnifying glass does not belong to the enemy.

We must take it back. We must use it to seek God, to magnify His works in our life. As is often the case, we find its good use in Our Lady, who proclaims with joy: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

Mary magnifies the love of God.

Looking at her, we see more clearly the magnitude of God’s love for us. We see how radically low He was willing to stoop, how small He was willing to become, when He becomes incarnate as a single cell in the womb of a humble Hebrew teenager. And we see how magnificent His love and plans for us, how high He wishes to raise us, when that same humble Hebrew teen is assumed into heaven and crowned Queen of the Universe. Even as we watch her standing at the Cross of her Son, we are invited to see more clearly how the worst of all sins will be transformed into a victory of His Love, and the means for our redemption and healing.

Mary’s gifts were ultimately for us. Through her Queenship, we receive the same grace of God, the same gifts of love. God does not ration His Spirit. Mary’s role is unique but the gifts of grace are for each of us. Her motherhood was given as a means by which we could both perceive and receive the gift of God Himself. 

With Mary we are invited to lift our eyes heavenward, to the God of whom each of us can say “The Almighty has done great things for me.”

As we turn our gaze to the gift, we find gratitude. When we focus on Jesus after our sin, we find Mercy. When we focus on the Promise, we remember who is leading us, who is with us.

Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us!

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